BY QUAID NAJMI
Mumbai, Nov 26: Though he came stealthily on a dark Saturday morning as the new Maharashtra Chief Minister, Devendra Fadnavis on Tuesday quit in full media blaze on a clear bright afternoon from his post – which he enjoyed along with Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar – for barely 80 hours. As he drove down to Raj Bhavan to submit his resignation to Governor B.S. Koshyari, it would have dawned on him that he became the first in the state’s history to “resign” twice within less than a month.
Fadnavis had quit as Chief Minister hours before the tenure of the outgoing 13th Maharashtra Legislative Assembly expired on November 9, after becoming the first-ever non-Congress CM to complete a full five-year term – a fact that was duly acknowledged loudly in public by himself, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, BJP President and Union Home Minister Amit Shah and others.
Apparently emboldened by the glowing accolades, Fadnavis went a step further and proclaimed even louder: “Mee punha yaeen, Mee punha yaeen, Mee punha yaeen” (I will return), and repeated it often till it became a subject matter of puns, jokes, memes and fun-messages in the past weeks. Undeterred, he kept his promise and did return – but how and finally, had to go less than triumphantly as the bemused 12 crore people of the state watched silently – both at his quiet entry and his grand exit, after less than four days in power.
In fact, this is considered the first time ever in the country’s political history, or at least in Maharashtra, when a new government was duly sworn-in in a pre-dawn operation, without the usual presence of luminaries like the Chief Justice and judges of the Bombay High Court, top police and civil officials, armed force officers, the diplomatic corps stationed in the country’s financial capital and celebrities from different walks of life.
Even the media – which had an army-like presence at his resignation announcement – was conspicuous by its sheer absence, including the official television and radio and Central or state government media departments, or the foreign media, as the two-man government was sworn-in in the brightly-lit Raj Bhavan hall with all curtain drawn that morning.
For the first time, an elected government in Maharashtra faced a legal googly in the Supreme Court, with the Shiv Sena-Nationalist Congress Party-Congress challenging his appointment in the apex court on a Sunday – a weekly holiday for the courts – and the final orders came out within 48 hours on Tuesday (November 26) morning.
It was also the first time when the Chief Minister took his new charge on Monday but his Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar did not, and after having some meetings in Mantralaya, went away quietly.Again, for the first time, the three parties Sena-NCP-Congress held an unprecedented ‘public parade’ of all their supporting MLAs that evoked a huge response among the masses, especially since the BJP-Ajit Pawar never formally disclosed their claimed 170 MLAs support till now.
Even after the SC order on Tuesday, most BJP leaders remained confident that the party would be able to prove its majority on the floor of the assembly on Wednesday evening, but the two-man show itself collapsed unceremoniously on Tuesday afternoon. Ironically, the crestfallen Fadnavis’ downfall came when the country was celebrating the “Constitution Day,” and Maharashtra was observing the 11th anniversary of the dastardly 26/11 Mumbai terror strikes, which were billed as “a war against the country”.